Charting Your Course : Seminar III - Getting the Signals Straight : Finding Meaning

There are many ways to find and give meaning to your experience. These are offered as examples of things other people have done to heal and grow.

Meditation is a way to center yourself and your thoughts, to quiet your mind and connect with the Infinite. Tapes can help you learn to meditate; you might also ask the hospital or hospice chaplain to help you find ways to meditate.


Gathering with people you love and who are important to you can be enriching to you and to them. One man, told he had but four weeks to live, organized a party and invited his many friends to come. Family and friends made tributes and shared memories and stories. Such gatherings can be surprisingly happy and can give you a chance to say goodbye to people you have enjoyed and loved.


Making a tape of stories or memories, sharing your experience with family members and friends, is a wonderful gift to you and your family. By making a tape, a special photo album, or a scrapbook for those you leave behind, you can help create memories of times you shared. Some people, especially parents, write letters to the children who will survive them.


Some cultures and traditions emphasize gift-giving. Native Americans, for instance, give valuable keepsakes to signify the end of life. This ritual allows the giver to show appreciation for the relationship shared.

A Legacy

You can give more than your material treasures to those you love. Leave a letter or tape recording sharing your values, hopes, insights, beliefs, and wisdom. Even just tell your story. Your bequest becomes both a cherished memento and a means of perpetuating your values.

When Time is Short

As you ponder the spiritual issues of illness, you may realize that there are things you wish to accomplish, and that time may be short. What unfinished business do you want to complete? What will give you a sense of joy and accomplishment? Make a list of things you want to finish.

Things To Do:


Can you think of anything else to add to your list? This list was suggested by Joanne Lynn, a researcher of end-of-life care.

The Four Tasks of Living and Dying

Since death could come at any time, working with these tasks now not only enables us to prepare for our death but provides us with the keys to living fully and finding meaning throughout all of the unwanted changes, losses, and painful circumstances of our lives.

-Christine Longaker

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This content is derived from the "Charting Your Course Seminars: A Whole Person Approach To Living With Cancer", provided by Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
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